Lowriding revolves around classic cars, thus leaving us with the task of bringing back to life cars that are some 30-plus years old. Some are decent, others are rust buckets, but regardless of what you get into the only thing that’s promised is that there’s always something to fix. Just ask Julio Mendez, the owner of this incredible 1961 Impala.
Julio had always wanted a bubbletop, so when he began his search, he was quick to click and slow to purchase—a smart move to say the least. After some time, he found the perfect platform, which came by way of an older restoration that was up for sale. “It was an older resto, but it was still in good condition,” Julio says.
With the car in his possession, he had a clear vision of what he wanted to do, so the first thing he did was bring the color back to life. A tedious process that required plenty of wet sanding, polishing, buffing, and waxing, brought it back to near perfection. From there he added chrome moldings, new mirrors, and antennas, and then he called in Mike Lamberson to line it all up with his pinstriping while Coast One patterned the roof and added leafing.
Underhood, the preexisting 350 was fitted with CFR chrome, the side pipes were replaced, disc brakes were installed, as well as a sway bar and Y-Bone. From there he went on to have the hoses of the hydraulic system hardlined, while the frame was boxed and the A-arms were extended and molded.
Pop the trunk and the setup features two custom pumps, three Adex square dumps, four solenoids, three Parker slowdown faucet valves, Stucchi check valves, machined aluminum blocks, and four Optima batteries—a tandem effort between Locos for Life Hydraulics and A1 Hydraulics.
Inside, the interior was gutted by California Upholstery and inside you’ll find a peanut butter interior complete with LED lighting and custom-embroidered floormats. The original steering column went back in to replace an aftermarket unit and the final step was to hammer on a set of 13-inch, 72-spoke straight-laced Zeniths that are wrapped in Remington rubber.
In its final form, this bubbletop is what dreams are made of, and now that it’s been granted a second lease on life, it’s a showstopping piece of Americana that represents a heritage and tradition that was built on the perseverance of the founding fathers of lowriding.
1961 Chevy Impala Bubbletop
350 with Edelbrock Endurashine induction
House of Kolor Pagan Gold with candy and pearl fade, pinstriping and leafing by Mike Lamberson, roof patterned by Coast One
New sway bar and Y-bar; hardlined hoses, A-arms extended and molded; two custom pumps, three Adex square dumps, four solenoids, three Parker slowdown faucet valves, Stucchi check valves, machined aluminum blocks, and four Optima batteries; work done by A1 Hydraulics and Locos for Life Hydraulics; 8-inch front cylinders, 12-inch rear
California Upholstery with LED lighting throughout
13-inch 72-spoke straight-laced Zeniths with powdercoated hubs/Remington 155/80R13